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Clotho and the Pool of Dreams and Forgetting

2015, acrylic on canvas, 41 x 49, by Jenny Badger Sultan

I wanted to somehow represent my current experience where dreams, memories, and daily life events intermingle, where I often feel a state of confusion, disorientation, and difficulty keeping things straight. Sometimes it feels like a great pool or soup with different things bobbing to the surface. I started with the pool itself and let the images arise.
Painting titled 'Clotho and the Pool of Dreams', by Jenny Badger Sultan. Click to enlarge
There are many dreams that came in. Here are a few: Key and riders, detail of painting 'Clotho and the Pool of Dreams', by Jenny Badger Sultan.

Dream of the Key in the Door and Baby Teddy
June 26, 2015

I am arriving at a house where Im going to have a meeting with members of my family and a man who is not a family member--maybe he will facilitate in some way. I have a regular key but it doesnt work right away so I take out another, larger key. When I insert it in the keyhole it works and the door opens easily. Before I enter the main room where well be meeting, I think I might take care of a few things since I assume that the man-facilitator will not be there yet. But I think Ill just check and make sure.

So I enter the big room and find that everyone is there including the man. People are lying around on mattresses, couches, etc.--very relaxed. They look up at me and say Hi. On a mattress in the middle of the floor my baby grandson is lying, partly propped up. He is loosely wrapped in a blanket. When I come in he turns his head to look at me and smile and acknowledge me--his equivalent of Hi. Its wonderful.

Rainbow Legs, detail of painting 'Clotho and the Pool of Dreams', by Jenny Badger Sultan.

Body Paint
Dream--May 4, 2014

A young girl, maybe ten or twelve years old, is standing naked. We are painting designs on her body.

Her whole lower half is now covered with colorful swirling designs--up to about her waist.

We are stopping now, to take a break. I think we will continue later, to cover the rest of her body.

Dancers, detail of painting 'Clotho and the Pool of Dreams', by Jenny Badger Sultan.

Sun on our Breasts
Dream--July 1, 2014

An outdoor festival. Some of the locals plan to entertain visitors from far away. We gather in a circle. A young man does a hip-hop dance, then a friend and I take off our tops and dance bare-breasted. Our breasts are large and full, surrounded by colorful ruffles and ribbons. Im a bit shy about this, but we turn and dance in all directions, singing "How good it feels to let the sun shine on our breasts."

Two Red Fans
Dream--Sept. 4, 2014

A crowded celebration of graphic design. Collaboration on a logo of a winged dragon. A man leads us. He's tall and solidly built with light brown skin and small braids falling to his shoulders. He does different things--at one point he gestures with two big red fans--kind of opening up the space as he moves around.

Childhood self with cat, detail of painting 'Clotho and the Pool of Dreams', by Jenny Badger Sultan.

The silhouette of a little girl with pigtails stands for me as a child.
Ive used this image in many artworks over the years.

The grey cat is a rubber bath toy that I enjoyed for years in my tub.

Myself as tree-woman, detail of painting 'Clotho and the Pool of Dreams', by Jenny Badger Sultan.

Myself as a Tree
Dream, June 9, 2014

There is an ecology event. I am in costume, dressed as a tree.

Eagle: detail of painting 'Clotho and the Pool of Dreams', by Jenny Badger Sultan.

Dream of the Wild Eagle
May 23, 2015

There is a very large and wild eagle up in a tree.

Its feathers are all puffed out and it is looking very aggressive.

Then somehow this eagle has gotten inside the building where I am. I am wondering how to get it back out.

I think, "This isn't going to be easy."

Dragon; detail of painting 'Clotho and the Pool of Dreams', by Jenny Badger Sultan.

Dream of the Destructive Dragon
August 25, 2015

My grandson Amos and I walk past a row of metal buildings that look like temporary storage units. I say "These are almost like trailers." In the window of one are a lot of drums, all tumbled together. Then we see a huge flying dragon, brown, copper and bronze, shiny and leathery. It crashes repeatedly, crushing buildings. Very destructive. I call the police or fire department, but I'm not sure they believe me--it's so bizarre. I call again, telling Amos "Check the name of the nearest cross street so I can tell the exact location"--I know the name of this street, and the two names should do it. I report the dragon and say "Help is needed to stop this destruction."

Clotho's face; detail of painting 'Clotho and the Pool of Dreams', by Jenny Badger Sultan. Click to enlarge.

Clotho


This painting is very much about lifespan and memory.

Something special was needed to complete the painting, though. After hearing a lecture on the brain where the Clotho gene was discussed--associated with longevity, greater cognition, and better executive function across the age spectrum--I decided to bring in the figure of Clotho to connect all the smaller images.

She is one of the Three Fates in Greek mythology, the one who spins the thread of life.


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